Ecosystem Grants

Does your work support organizations that work in our program areas?


Does your work include one or more of the following types of support?

Building & Supporting Leadership Networks

Providing Critical Data & Analysis

Advancing Public Awareness & Policy

Spreading Great Ideas & Building Capacity


Then, you may be eligible for an Ecosystem grant!

Ecosystem grants provide general operating support to help sustain organizations that create unique and significant value for our grantees, Fellows and other organizations.

Some might call these infrastructure organizations or intermediary organizations or just can’t-do-without organizations. We call them ecosystem organizations because they help create an environment for big things to happen in the region by supporting other organizations and leaders.

What we fund

Ecosystem grants are offered across all Foundation programs and strategic initiatives. They provide general operating support to organizations that our grantees, Fellows and other organizations rely on to:

  • Provide critical data and analysis.
  • Spread great ideas and build capacity.
  • Advance public awareness and policy.
  • Build and support leadership networks.

Organizations may apply to receive as much as $200,000 over two years in general operating support. The grants are not to exceed 25 percent of an organization’s operating budget. We will talk with finalists to determine if there is any reason to give less than this amount—for example, if it is a funder’s collaborative with set funding amounts.  

Selection Criteria

Fit with a Foundation program or initiative.

Does the applicant advance the goal of a Foundation program or strategic initiative?

Does the applicant support other organizations and leaders in one or more of the following ways?

  • Provide critical data and analysis.
  • Advance public awareness and policy solutions.
  • Spread great ideas and build capacity.
  • Build and support networks of leaders.

Impact on other organizations and leaders.

Does the applicant create unique and significant value for other organizations and leaders?

How the applicant operates.

Is the applicant stable and strong in terms of governance and finance?

Does the applicant operate in a way that aligns with the Bush Foundation’s operating values?

Across all our work, we are committed to addressing racial and economic equity in our region. As we review applications, we will consider whether applicants have the skills and orientation to support leaders and organizations working toward that end.

Additional Considerations

We will also consider the diversity of our portfolio across:

  • Size of community served.
  • Size of applicant.
  • Demographics of communities served.
  • Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography.

Ecosystem grants may be awarded to 501(c)(3) public charities or government entities. Coalitions or collaborative efforts are eligible to apply, but only one organization may receive the grant.

Organizations that do not have 501(c)(3) status may submit an application through a fiscal sponsor. The fiscal sponsor must submit the grant application. If the grant is approved, the fiscal sponsor becomes the grantee and receives the funds. Learn more about fiscal sponsorships.

Grants must be used for a charitable purpose that supports people and organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or the 23 Native nations that share the same geography.

How to Apply

2016 Ecosystem grantees will be contacted directly about applying for a 2018 grant.

There will be a few Ecosystem grants available to new applicants. Organizations that meet the selection criteria and eligibility may apply between April 24 and May 24, 2018.

Before applying, we strongly encourage you to reach out to Bush Foundation staff, especially if you applied in 2016 and didn’t receive funding, to discuss your organization’s fit with the program.

Ecosystem grants will be awarded bi-annually.


Review applications and select finalists

Bush Foundation staff will conduct an initial review of applications and select finalists in July. Applicants will be notified of decisions in mid-July.

Finalist Review

Staff will gather any additional necessary information on finalists in July and August.

Grantee Selection

In August, staff will select Ecosystem grantees. Applicants will be notified of decisions in early September.


For more information, or to talk with someone about the Ecosystem grant program, call 651-379-2218 or email